Despite turning 30 years of age in 2018, Geno Atkins has remained one of the most dominant defenders in the NFL.
Entering his ninth pro season, Atkins has 61 career sacks, the most among any active defensive tackle. He’s also tied with Everson Griffen for the 21st-most sacks among all active players.
There’s been nothing to suggest Atkins will be slowing down anytime soon, at least when the 2018 season comes around. However, Atkins is currently on the final year of his contract as the Bengals try to get him extended before the season begins.
Getting there will prove difficult, especially for a player who plays a position where players’ production tends to drop off steeply entering their 30s.
Even so, Atkins is a franchise cornerstone for the Bengals, and getting him extend is something they must do this offseason. That’s why Atkins made CBS Sports’ list of prime candidates to sign an extension before the 2018 season begins.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry spoke why the Bengals need to extend Atkins, even though it won’t be easy to get done:
Besides Donald, nobody is more disruptive to the opposition’s passing game from the interior of the defensive line than Atkins. Atkins has the second-most sacks for an interior defensive lineman since the start of the 2015 season with 29. His 233 quarterback pressures according to PFF during this same span also trail only Donald among interior defensive lineman.
The market for defensive tackles has changed dramatically since Atkins signed his five-year, $53.327 million extension in 2013. The top run stuffers are signing deals in the $12 million-per-year range while the best pass rushers are getting upwards to $17 million per year. It would behoove Cincinnati to extend Atkins’ contract before Donald resets the market for interior defensive linemen.
The Bengals are also working to get an extension done for defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who made the ‘Other Candidates’ section of this piece, but there’s no question Atkins is who Cincinnati needs the most.
This past season, Atkins appeared in all 16 games in 2017 and finished with 46 total tackles, nine sacks, and was ranked second among interior defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus (accounts for 4-3 and 3-4 defensive tackles). He was also named to the 2017 Pro Bowl.
That came after Atkins played all 16 games in 2016 and finished with 32 total tackles, nine sacks, and was ranked sixth among interior defensive lineman by Pro Football Focus.
All of this is why the Bengals badly need to get Atkins extended before the 2018 season begins.